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A Latter Day Deception

by Martin Wishnatsky

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Author Bio

Chapter One:
The Washington Temple

Chapter Two:
The Princeton Stacks

Chapter Three:
Holy Murder

Chapter Four:
The Prophet

Chapter Five:
Becoming a God

Chapter Six:
Granite Mountain

Chapter Seven:
Kingdom Come


Mormonism: A Latter Day Deception (Chapter Six)

Chapter Six:
Granite Mountain

The goal of the Genealogical Society
is to keep the temples supplied with names.

Elder Theodore M. Burton
Assistant to the Council of the Twelve

and President of the Genealogical Society


March, 1975

The March, 1982 issue of the Ensign, the glossy Church magazine, announced plans to construct ten new temples, including one in Dallas and one in Chicago, that will each have "an annual capacity for 195,000 endowments." Currently the Washington Temple is the only one east of the Mississippi, though there is one under construction in Atlanta. Los Angeles and Oakland have both had temples for a number of years. Overseas temples include one in London and one in Switzerland among others. The largest concentration of temples by far is in Utah. In 1981, over four million endowments were performed for the dead — about 200,000 per temple for each of the twenty temples currently in operation. By 1984, the Church plans to have forty-one temples constructed and in operation around the world including one recently announced for Denver, Colorado. [As of the summer of 2002, there were over 100 temples in operation, and another 20-25 planned or under construction].

Of the four million endowments done in 1981 (almost identical to the number done in 1980), only 49,800 or 1.25% were for the living. I was one of those. All the rest were for the dead. Matthew Ramage, whose name was pinned to my white jumpsuit in the Temple, was one of those.

How many of the endowments for the dead were for non-Mormons whose descendants had no knowledge of what was being done? Each Temple jurisdiction covers about four hundred wards, making each ward responsible for an average of ten endowments per week. In practice, each ward makes a Temple trip once a month on a predesignated day. Out of an active ward membership of four hundred, in my own experience about ten will regularly participate in these trips. All of these have long since been ceremonially disemboweled for all their discoverable ancestors. They suffer through the rigors of the journey and the tedium of the exercise solely to "do work for the dead," gain brownie points in heaven, and help the Bishop fill the quota. If each of the ten goes through four times in a visit, the ward can cover its forty per month quota. One elder complained to me: "I don't like going to the Temple because we rush through quickly so we can go down and get another name; I don't even get to relax a few minutes in the Celestial Room."

Based on this experience, I would estimate that of the four million endowments done annually (expected to rise to eight million with forty Temples in operation) at least 3,000,000 are of individuals who have no Mormon descendants. Where do their names come from? How did the name of Matthew Ramage, completely unknown to me, end up pinned to my jumpsuit?

The Microfilm Project

The original purpose of the Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was to gather together genealogical records that would assist church members in finding their ancestors and to maintain a continuously updated alphabetical index of all names endowed in the temples. The development of microfilm technology in the 1930's greatly facilitated the gathering of records. An experienced camera operator could film ten pages of parish or public records in the time that a manual transcriber would take to copy out a few lines of information--and with no problem of accuracy. By portraying themselves as careful researchers of family lineage, anxious to preserve irreplaceable records, Mormon microfilmers gained consent worldwide to film vital statistics records. By offering to provide a copy of all filmed records free of charge to co-operating institutions, many doors opened to them.

Archibald F. Bennett, secretary of the Genealogical Society of Utah in the 1930's and 1940's, and the founder of the global microfilming program, visited Connecticut in 1946 to lobby for microfilming privileges at the State Library. "Thousands of our people, including three Presidents of our church, have ancestors born in Connecticut," he said. "I myself have fifteen or twenty. We shudder to think what would happen to these records if an atom bomb were dropped on the State Library." Ensign, April, 1982. The state officials acquiesced and gave Bennett permission to copy the complete birth, death and marriage records of the state of Connecticut. Similar success occurred in other states and in foreign countries as well.

Granite Mountain

To store and preserve the microfilmed records, President and Prophet David O. McKay in the late 1950's ordered the construction of the Granite Mountain Records Vault, a mammoth underground nuclear bomb-proof storage facility. With seven hundred feet of solid granite overhead and steel doors weighing a total of thirty-two tons beveled inward so that even an atomic blast would only seal them tighter, the hundreds of thousands of rolls of microfilm found a secure home. (By 1982 Granite Mountain contained over a million hundred-foot rolls of microfilm containing at a minimum two billion names, and perhaps upwards of ten billion.) [Twenty years later there are 2.3 million rolls of microfilm in "The Vault."] "The gathering of all genealogically valuable records of mankind," writes a church specialist, "is the long-range goal of the Genealogical Society." Ensign, August,1974.

The Church estimates that about fifty billion people have lived on the earth since the creation. According to Church historians Arrington and Bitton:

One of the most unusual structures built in recent years is the mammoth subterranean archival storage facility in Little Cottonwood Canyon, about twenty miles southeast of Salt Lake City. A huge vault bored through the sheer granite rock, this impregnable repository, with more than an acre and a half of storage area, is designed to last for centuries. It contains church records and the microfilm negatives of a vast accumulation of genealogical records - more than two billion pages of records.

Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience (New York, 1979), ch.14. "The air-conditioned micro-film vaults of Utah," wrote an awestruck visiting British archivist, "with their computer control center look like something from another world." Ensign, August,1974.

Name Shortage

In the 1950's, the Church, heretofore primarily a Utah and Mountain States organization whose members traced their ancestors back to the original Mormon pioneers, began to enlarge its missionary work and, as a consequence, attracted a growing convert membership. As the Church developed into a substantial national and, indeed, a global institution, Prophet McKay — who had spearheaded this growth — sought to build temples outside of the Rocky Mountain region. Before he was chosen Prophet in 1951, the Church had eight temples, four in Utah, three in areas settled by the original pioneers — the Canadian Rockies, Arizona and Idaho — and one in Hawaii. In the space of four years, President McKay dedicated four more temples. The one in Los Angeles seemed like a local extension of temple facilities compared to the structures erected overseas in Switzerland, London and New Zealand. Shortly thereafter, to his dismay, the Prophet found that the new temples — insignia of the global mission of the Church — were severely underutilized. Many millions of names generated by the microfilming program were pouring into Salt Lake City every year, but Church members were not utilizing this information in sufficient numbers to provide the necessary flow of names to keep the temples active. Temple trips organized ward by ward were not difficult to arrange, but if the membership did not take the trouble to do extensive genealogical research family by family, there would be no names for them to endow once they had donned their robes.

For convert members with non-Mormon relatives and ancestors, genealogical research often ran into family hostility. The shunned convert preferred to retreat into his new church associations rather than confront the closemouthed displeasure of the great aunt who knew the whole story of his family's history but adamantly refused to cooperate. At the same time this phenomenon was stifling genealogical research and therefore keeping the member away from the temples (since he had no family names to endow), the microfilm kept cascading into Church headquarters. Somewhere in this mountain of filmed records were the names and dates of the ancestors the frustrated convert could not identify. Without some family guidance, however, the member — even were he capable of searching effectively in these records — would have had no clue as to where to look.

In this project the Church refused to help. Professional genealogists were very expensive to employ; the Church lay the burden on the members. The members threw their hands up in helplessness at a task that often frustrated professionals, and temple work dwindled. As the Church later expressed it: "The Genealogical Society cannot do the research work of establishing family lines of priesthood heritage which God has assigned the Priesthood to do." Ensign, May, 1975. The Genealogical Society existed to gather names, the raw data, but the rest was up to the members. Elder Theodore M. Burton, President of the Genealogical Society, stated the matter baldly: "The Genealogical Society," he stated, "does not do genealogical research work." The Church wouldn't do it; the members couldn't do it - and the beautiful temples grew still.

To solve the problem of lagging genealogical research by the membership without shouldering the expense of providing professional research help to millions of Mormons, the Prophet ordered the Genealogical Society to extract names directly from the microfilmed records for use in temple endowments — without any concern as to whether the names extracted were those of ancestors of church members. A name was a name. This ominous development, unheralded and unannounced, silently broke faith with the hundreds of records custodians who had co-operated with the Mormon microfilming program. Archibald Bennett's heart-stirring plea for preservation of the records of his ancestors appeared somewhat duplicitous in light of President McKay's decision to use the obtained records indiscriminately to keep the temples active. The members would not do enough genealogical research to keep the temples busy? Very well. All they had to do was go to the temples and the Church would provide the names for them. Thus, Matthew Ramage's name came out of the computer and was pinned on my jumpsuit.

Controlled Extraction

Once this solution proved successful, the microfilming program was accelerated. The Genealogical Society trained members worldwide in microfilming techniques, dubbing them "research specialists" and equipping them with the credential "Accredited Genealogist (A.G.)" to disarm records custodians. The extracting of names from the growing microfilm files was controlled as follows:

A corps of young women was gathered and trained to read Old English parish registers projected from a 16-mm film onto a screen in a film reader. The data from these registers was flexotype code-punched to paper tape and simultaneously transmitted to a computer two blocks away, under a dual "match-merge" system of reading and code punching of entries by two persons. With this system, any errors were immediately detected and could be corrected, which practically eliminated the chance for errors.

With the R-Tab (records tabulation) system, millions of identified names are continually fed into the computer mass file and then sent on to the temples for ordinance work. The system, together with the very extensive filming program, will insure an adequate supply of names for as many temples as may be constructed, so long as any records remain extant for filming.

Hoyt Palmer, "For Those Who are Waiting," Ensign, August, 1974.

The process of culling names from the microfilmed records is known as "controlled extraction," as in "the controlled extraction program being carried on in many of the stakes of the Church with such great devotion and success." Ensign, May, 1982. The term "controlled" means simply that by having the records "extracted" simultaneously by two clerks, errors and oversights are eliminated. The "extract" is "controlled" to make sure the records are accurately picked clean.

The Church takes seriously its mission to allow every soul in the Spirit World the option of accepting a proxy endowment. Elder Theodore M. Burton stated frankly in 1975: "The First Presidency has charged the Genealogical society to provide enough names to keep the temples in operation. The system developed in response to the request is called the controlled extraction program." Ensign, March,1975. "The members of the Church today," wrote the President of the Genealogical Society in 1975, "are producing only 34 percent of the names used in temple ordinance work. The remainder are supplied by controlled extraction." He concluded that "the general trend is towards an increase in the number of names submitted to temples through the Society."

In 1968 member or "patron" names endowed in the temples came to 600,000. Controlled extraction provided 1,100,000 more. Had the Church only patron input to utilize, each of the thirteen temp1es in operation in 1968 would have had only 46,000 names to process, less than 25% of capacity. By feeding in 1,100,000 non-Mormon-related names, culled from parish and public records, utilization rose to 70%. The feed from the Granite Mountain Vault rose and fell as needed to augment patron input and keep the endowment rooms busy. In 1974, for example, 2.4 million endowments were performed, two-thirds of which had no connection with member research. Ensign, March, 1975.

In light of this data, the statement of Apostle Gordon B. Hinckley in the August, 1974 Ensign that "the primary purpose (of the genealogical records preservation program) is to afford members of the Church the resources needed to identify their dead ancestors," is not correct. The primary purpose of the records acquisition program is to provide names for proxy baptisms, an objective that does not require any genealogical research whatsoever by the membership.

Notwithstanding the power of controlled extraction, patron input is still encouraged strongly. "As new temples are being constructed in ever greater rapidity," said Elder Burton in an address to the Apri1, 1975 General Conference, "we are faced with the problem of keeping them in operation." In General Conference seven years later - April, 1982 - the same refrain was repeated by Elder W. Grant Bangerter. "It would be unfortunate," he said, "to build temples around the earth and have them stand largely idle." Members should not look upon the temples simply as a place "to do a name." Going to the temple to endow extractees, stated Wayne Brickey, supervisor of priesthood genealogy textbooks, is "vital," but "many of us seem to confine ourselves to that part - and even at that, the temples are well below capacity attendance." Don't depend on controlled extraction to do it all, exhorted Elder Brickey. Go out and find your own "Every ancestor found is a victory; every name submitted is a soul with an opportunity for exaltation." Having encouraged, the patrons, he then reverted to hard facts:

As temples become more busy and more numerous, it will be necessary to extract an enormous number of names from various records in the world, on a careful, controlled basis, in order to supplement those names submitted privately by Church members. This work has already begun, but it will undoubtedly grow, allowing a much greater amount of temple work to be done.

Wayne Brickey, "The New Scope of What We have Called Genealogy," Ensign, January, 1977.

What, Already Endowed?

New church members who desire to stand in for their ancestors are often dismayed to discover that the endowment has already been done through controlled extraction. The Genealogical Society sought to put a positive spin on this situation. All you have to do, says Elder Burton, is to check our alphabetical print-out of controlled extraction endowments. If it's already been done, you can relax in the knowledge that your ancestor has already received "the saving ordinances." Elder Burton expressed puzzlement that anyone should be offended at endowment by extraction. "Why," he asks, "do some Saints feel hurt when they find we are doing work for them that saves them time and money?"

Nothing . . . could be more helpful to the Saints than to have all the tedious spadework in Church and vital records done for them at reduced cost through the controlled extraction program. It is not a handicap, but a blessing to the Saints.

Ensign, March, 1975. The members may be pardoned for their displeasure upon discovering that beloved ancestors for whom they desired to stand as proxy were endowed by an unknown individual to fill the quota one Saturday in a distant ward.

If Mormons are sometimes offended at the impersonality of the controlled extraction process, the feelings of non-Mormons about their ancestors, who are yearly endowed by the millions, might surprise Elder Burton even more.

With controlled extraction in full swing, and all the wards organized for monthly temple trips to stand proxy for the computer output, no obstacle remained to the erection of more and more temples. The ceremonial disembowelment of the entire human race is now well underway. "We thank Thee, 0 God, for a Prophet" begins a popular Mormon hymn, "to guide us in these latter days."

Celebrity Endowments

Before the inauguration of the controlled extraction program, the Church on an ad hoc basis performed endowments by proxy for selected non-Mormons who had passed on. The endowment work for George Washington and the other founding fathers was done for them in a Utah temple in the nineteenth century· Spencer W. Kimball, Prophet of the Church and grandson of Heber C. Kimball, declared in the January,1977 Ensign:

We know that the spirit world is filled with the spirits of men who are waiting for you and me to get busy - waiting as the signers of the Declaration of Independence waited. "Why," they asked President Wilford Woodruff, "why do you keep us waiting?"

Although the Church will not do genealogical research for its members, it makes an exception for non-members of royal lineage. The Royalty Identification Unit (Special Services Section) of the Genealogical Department maintains a custom-produced list of celebrity endowments that are not part of the controlled extraction print-out. These names are listed in the T99 (Special Handling) file — "royalty and other special records processed by the Genealogical Society." The Church reserves to itself the right to perform the ordinances for the great and discourages any member from standing as proxy for a royal forebear. "Due to the complexities of research associated with royalty," reads a Genealogical Society Research Paper (Series F, No.4), "the Genealogical Department researches these lines. Therefore, when a family's ancestors are individuals with royal titles, it is recommended that church members spend their resources on other lines that need to be researched."

To emphasize that the Church's allotment of its own resources to genealogical research is solely for the purpose of preparing blueblood endowments, the following warning is added: "Caution: the spouses of royalty may have been common people and therefore may not be traced as part of the royalty identification projects."

Despite Elder Burton's statement to the contrary ("The Genealogical Society cannot do the research work of establishing family lines of priesthood heritage which God has assigned the priesthood to do"), the Genealogical Society does do such research, but only for nobility. God, it appears, has assigned the "common" priesthood the task of finding their own undistinguished forebears, but reserves to Himself through His Church the establishing and endowing of the crowned heads of Europe.

If this practice is part of the Restored Gospel, then, despite what the Bible says, God is a "respecter of persons" — "Special Handling" for the aristocracy; mass extractions for the rest of us. "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" — if they can find it. "Blessed are the rich and famous, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" — courtesy of the Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The average working saint, who faithfully pays his tithe and devotes many hours per week to church work, is periodically exhorted to "search out" his ancestors - an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. Were he an aristocrat, the Church would do it for him free of charge.

George II. Along with the Founding Fathers in the T99 file are the kings of England. George II of England, according to information in a Genealogical Society Research Paper, received a proxy baptism on September 5, 1893 during the reign of the Prophet Wilford Woodruff. His wife, Queen Caroline, was baptized the same day. Their children also enjoyed a Mormon proxy baptism — some on September 5, 1893 and the rest a week later on September 12th. On September 20, 1893, Queen Caroline received her endowment through a female proxy who pledged her to devote all her time, talent and substance to the Mormon Church, performed the secret handshakes on her behalf and took the oaths and penalties for her.

Let us say that Queen Caroline joyfully received these ordinances in the Spirit World where she had been stuck in limbo for over one hundred years since her death, and immediately left spirit prison to be with Christ. Sad to say, George II could not go with her, for his endowment was not performed until June 4, 1924 — over thirty years later. Why the Mormon authorities made him wait, I do not know. The royal couple and their children are now an eternal family: the sealing of children to parents occurred January 14, 1935. Having lived and died ignorant of the advent of the restored gospel, King George can now enjoy the bliss of celestial glory — and, hopefully, when the opportunity arises, have other wives sealed to him in a latter-day temple, whereupon he may begin to create and populate new planets.

If George and Caroline can become Adam and Eve to new worlds, instead of being confined in spirit prison all their eternal days, surely they owe Joseph Smith and his successors a tremendous debt of gratitude. It is nice to know that Christ through his priesthood on earth takes special care of European aristocrats who were also very well taken care of while here on earth.

New England Bluebloods. We all know of Boston, "the land of the bean and the cod, where the Lowells talk only to the Cabots, and the Cabots talk only to God." Eight of the Cambridge, Massachusetts Cabots did not have the opportunity of talking with God until May 24, 1975 when they received their controlled extraction endowments in the Tempe, Arizona Temple, having been baptized there four weeks previously. The oldest was Anna Sophia Blake Cabot, born July 2, 1796; the youngest Jane Lawrence Cabot, born November 23, 1846. Three days later - April 29, 1975 — seven more Cambridge Cabots won the privilege at the Arizona Temple of entering into the presence of Christ — ranging from Frederick Cabot, born February 20, 1788, to George B. Gay Cabot, born April 8, 1836. Surely they are all everlastingly grateful to the state of Massachusetts for its willingness to participate in the Latter-day Saints microfilming program.

Should the Cambridge Lowells desire to talk to these Cabots, they need not despair, for they too have been extracted. While the Cabots were being endowed in Arizona, three Lowells — Anna Cabot Lowell (b. September 29, 1811), Augustus Lowell (b. January 15, 1830) and Blanche Lowell (b. 1847) — received their baptisms and proto-Masonic blood oaths in the Washington, D.C. Temple.

Frank J. Cannon, former Senator from Utah and son of First Counsellor George Q. Cannon, records in his memoirs a story about Theodore Roosevelt:

And it is told — sometimes solemnly, sometimes with a grin — that, in the Temple at Salt Lake, a proxy has stood for him and he has been baptized into the Mormon Church; that proxies have stood for the members of his family and that they have been sealed to him; and finally that proxies have stood for some of the great queens of the past (who had not already been sealed to Mormon leaders) and that they have been sealed to the President for eternity!

Roosevelt had done a great favor to the Mormon Church in helping to secure a vote in the Senate seating polygamist Reed Smoot after a Senate Investigation Committee had recommended that he be denied admission. "It is not uncommon practice in the Mormon Church," explains Frank Cannon, "thus to 'do a work' for a Gentile who has befriended the people or otherwise won the gratitude of the Church authorities." Frank J. Cannon and Harvey J. O'Higgins, Under the Prophet in Utah (Boston, 1911).

Controlled Deception

Should offended non-Mormons oppose continuation of the controlled extraction program and lobby for an end to Mormon microfilming privileges in public and church records, a trained Mormon theologian may well challenge them: are the millions who died without benefit of having the opportunity to accept the restored gospel to be prevented from enjoying the ultimate in heavenly bliss simply because their living descendants refuse to do the work for them, or allow others to do it in their stead? Is this fair to the dead? "There are uncounted millions," wrote Gordon B. Hinckley, then an apostle and now a counsellor to the Prophet, in the August, 1974 Ensign, "who have walked the earth and who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Shall they be denied such blessings as are offered in the temples of the church?" A Mormon "genealogist" told me candidly:

We say we're microfilming the records as part of a genealogical research project, but it has nothing to do with that. We just need names to do endowments. Our work won't be done until everyone that ever lived upon the earth is endowed. Whether they accept the work that we do for them here is up to them.

I can imagine the response if B'nai B'rith representatives were to go to the Connecticut State Library and make copies of vital statistics records under the guise of doing genealogical research into Jewish roots, and then used these records wholesale for secret rituals converting the ancestors of every living Connecticut resident to Judaism - with the active intention of doing this to every Gentile person that ever lived. Surely the activities of such a cult would be restrained. It is quite possible that in the millions of illicit endowments for non-Mormon deceased at least a few Jews have been ritually converted to Mormonism. [In May, 1995, the Church signed an agreement with major Jewish organizations and expunged the endowments of 360,000 holocaust victims from its records. Gary Mokotoff, "The Mormon/Jewish Controversy: What Really Happened," Avotaynu, Summer, 1995 (] I doubt that any of the millions of Christians whose ancestors have been secretly converted to Mormonism would be any less upset were they to find out what has been going on in the Temples of the Lord. [The Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake said he did not think Joan of Arc would mind. Salt Lake Tribune, October 9, 1999.] The only solace I have in knowing that the Russian Communists obliterated my ancestors' graves in Lemburg, Poland, is that no hungry Mormon name-robber, looking for records of dead persons to feed the ghoulish endowment factories, will ever be able to uncover any trace of them.